Remember a recent article floating around that detailed how a man stole a caught baseball from a child at a Cubs game? Sites titled it, “Man laughs as he steals baseball from child at game,” or maybe “adult fan shamelessly steals child’s baseball.” How dare a grown man do such a thing to an innocent child enjoying America’s favorite pastime and national sport?! If you were tempted to find this man and tell him what for, you’re not alone. Most of us felt the same way.
Except…there’s a problem.
It isn’t true.
• Social media has a tendency to misinterpret video content, and this case was no exception. The video shows a ball flying in, the boy fumbling it. It rolls under the seat, where the man behind him catches it and gives it to his wife, cheering. Seems pretty simple, right?
• What you don’t see is the fact that the man had caught, and handed out, several other balls – including to the poor child who apparently had his opportunity “stolen.” The boy’s attempt to catch the ball in the video was nothing more than him helping the man behind him catch the balls as they came in so he could disperse them to the crowd.
• Cubs spokesman Julian Green clarified, albeit it was too late to stop the viral spread of the fake news message. “I spoke to the boy’s mother today and can confirm the man did not steal the ball from the boy, based on information we received from his mother,” he said. “In fact, the man gave several balls to children in the same section and his wife as an anniversary present.”
• Now, here’s the problem. If it was a one-off instance of someone complaining about something they misperceived, we wouldn’t be writing this article. However, someone in the press latched on to the video and sent it viral online with a message insinuating the ball was stolen.
• Within days of the event, the poor altruistic man had his reputation completely dashed. He was called a villain, evil, a criminal, a jerk, a bastard and just about every other name under the book. People watched the video, fell for the text paired with it, and bought the story hook, line, and sinker.
• The result? An innocent man was made out to be a terrible person in a way that could have real consequences on his life and livelihood. His poor wife, to whom he passed the ball, was also implicated. And it was all false.
• The unfortunate star of the viral video was forced to speak out publicly, even in the face of all the hatred. He said he would “like to thank the Taylor family, Chuck Mycoff, and all the people around us at the game who spoke up on my behalf,” and reminded people that he “helped the young man get a ball at the beginning of the game.”
• The world has plum gone crazy over the last few months and years, especially here in the United States. It’s easy to get spun into a frenzy by what you read, and maybe this cautionary tale won’t amount a hill of beans to some, but critical thinking and common sense are important; what you see isn’t always the truth of the matter. So, if someone shares or tells you a tale that seems a bit extreme, be sure to check it out in more detail before passing it along. We’ll keep giving you real facts along the way, to help put some of the insanity to rest.
• Lastly, always remember this important old southern adage: if common sense was lard, most people couldn’t grease a pan. Ask questions twice; condemn, cheer, or complain once. Don’t get sucked into the fake news media. Stay alert, stay honest, and stand up for what matters most!